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The State Department admitted on Monday that it misled reporters about a recent delegation of Muslim Brotherhood leaders and allies who were hosted for a meeting with officials at Foggy Bottom.
State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki claimed last week that the controversial delegation of key Brotherhood leaders and allies had been “organized and funded by Georgetown University.”
However, the university denied this is the case when reached by the Washington Free Beacon.
Psaki clarified her original comments made on Jan. 29 during a Monday meeting with reporters.
The meeting between the Brotherhood allies and the State Department sparked controversy in Washington and Cairo, where Egyptian government officials expressed anger at the Obama administration for hosting representatives of a group they consider to be terrorists.
The State Department meeting was attended by a deputy assistant secretary for democracy, human rights, and labor and other State Department officials.
While Psaki continued to defend the decision to host the Brotherhood allies at the State Department, she clarified that Georgetown actually had nothing to do with the delegation.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t have the accurate information on one small piece. The meeting was set up by the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, a nonprofit. So the visit was not funded, as you know, by us or the U.S. Government, but it was also not funded by Georgetown,” Psaki said.
When asked by a reporter “if there’s been any rethink in—within the building about the appropriateness of this visit, considering what happened afterwards and the photographs that some of the participants took,” Psaki responded, “No.”
While at the State Department last week, one member of the delegation, a Brotherhood-aligned judge in Egypt, posed for a picture in which he held up the Islamic group’s notorious four-finger Rabia symbol, according to his Facebook page.
Psaki went on to say that the Obama administration remains comfortable entertaining the Brotherhood.
“Are you—is the building comfortable with continuing to do business with this center, this group?” a reporter asked.
“Yes. Yes,” Psaki responded.
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry condemned the visit and expressed frustration with the State Department for hosting the Brotherhood-aligned delegation, which was first reported by the Free Beacon.
“These statements are incomprehensible to me, we do not understand that there will be such a communication with the elements involved in terrorist acts to intimidate the Egyptians,” Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri was quoted as saying in the regional press.
“The Brotherhood is not a political party,” but “a terrorist organization,” Shukri said.
Just days after the Brotherhood-aligned delegation was hosted at the State Department, the Islamist organization released a statement calling for “a long, uncompromising jihad.”
“It is in incumbent upon everyone to be aware that we are the process of a new phase, where we summon what is latent in our strength, where we recall the meanings of jihad and prepare ourselves, our wives, our sons, our daughters, and whoever marched on our path to a long, uncompromising jihad, and during this stage we ask for martyrdom,” the statement reads.
When initially faced with questions about the meeting following the Free Beacon’s initial report, Psaki implied that the delegation was legitimate due to its ties to Georgetown.
“Well, State Department officials meet—recently met with a group of visiting Egyptian former parliamentarians whose visit to the United States was organized and funded by Georgetown University,” she said. “Such meetings are fairly routine at the State Department where we regularly meet with political party leaders from across the world.”
“The Georgetown group included former members of the Freedom and Justice Party, among others. So this was a meeting – we meet on a regular basis with a range of groups, and obviously, as I mentioned, this was a group sponsored by Georgetown,” Psaki said.